Wright State’s Cole Gentry has a Steve Nash quality about him. Like the two-time NBA most valuable player, the 5-foot-10 junior can create shots for himself and others by weaving through opponents until he finds something he likes.
“I just take what the defense is giving me,” he said after notching 24 points and five assists against UIC last week. “They were switching all the ball screens, and there were times when I had a big guy on me. We liked that matchup, so we kept going to it.”
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Gentry also had a strong performance against IUPUI on Sunday, tallying 20 points while tying the school record for single-game free-throw accuracy by going 10-for-10.
Eight other players have had perfect games from the foul line with a minimum of 10 attempts, but he’s in rare territory with his season-long marksmanship — 40 of 43 for 93.0 percent.
Jesse Deister set the school record in 2000-01 at 94.9 percent. Andy Holderman (91.2 in 1992-93) and Cain Doliboa (90.9 in 2001-02) are the only other players to top 90.0.
“I do the same thing each time. I relax myself, take a dribble and shoot it and live with the result,” Gentry said.
Although it’s not an official stat, Gentry probably would be the all-time leader among Raider point guards in turnovers per minute. He’s had just 16 in 15 games.
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“Nobody works harder than Cole. They just don’t. From last year to this year, nobody puts the time in like he does,” coach Scott Nagy said. “He’s such a tremendous leader for us. And (opponents) know it. They’re doing everything they can to keep the ball out of his hands because he just makes us go.”
The Raiders (7-8, 1-1 Horizon League) will need Gentry to be at his best as they embark on a stretch of five straight road games. They’re 0-6 away from the Nutter Center.
In 27 years of league play, the most consecutive road games they’ve had is four: once in the Mid-Continent Conference (1992-93) and three times in the Horizon League (2001-02, 2010-11 and 2012-13).
“Some people really worry about it, but I don’t,” Nagy said. “The way I look at it, we’ve got to play nine games on the road, and we’ve got to play nine at home, so what’s it matter? If we’re playing five on the road, that means we’ve got a pretty good stretch at home, too.”
The Raiders will play five straight at home Feb. 7-23.
“All these teams are going to have to come back here,” Gentry said. “It’s a big incentive for us to take care of the early part of the season and not just try to make it all up at the end.”
Raider addition: Omar Thielemans, a 6-7 forward from Arizona, has transferred to Wright State. He’s already enrolled and will have three and a half years of eligibility starting in the second semester next year.
A native of Belgium, he was considered a four-star prospect, and 247Sports recruiting analyst Josh Gershon called him an “athletic and versatile wing who can really pass.”
Before the season, Arizona coach Sean Miller told Tucson.com: “Omar is a great kid, and he’s really in transition from FIBA basketball and playing in Europe to playing college basketball at a high level. I think his best years are ahead of him. He’s more of a developmental player.”
“He actually plays more like a guard,” Nagy said. “He’s 6-7 and handles it. We have a year to mold him into what we want. He’ll help us now with practice because we have so few guys. It should make our team better this year, even though he can’t play.”
Another future Raider, Wheelersburg senior forward Tanner Holden, had 50 points and 17 rebounds in an 80-67 win over East Liverpool on Saturday.